Time-Honored Stories Used to Guide Students to Be Good and Kind to Others

Friendship in Chinese and English carved into a stone.

Friendship and goodwill among people will bring harmony to society. (Image: Kelliem via Dreamstime)

Friendship and goodwill among people will bring harmony to society. However, to achieve this, individuals must practice seeing and being good and kind to others around them, no matter what rank they hold within society or what inherent abilities and talents each possesses. 

Each life is predestined to experience good and bad times, and none of us know when bad times may befall us. During such times, everyone would welcome a kind word or deed.

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Science acknowledges the law of cause and effect, and karma is adhered to in the East. Yet, how many people today believe that good deeds are rewarded and retribution follows terrible acts? It may be wise to examine our current life to see what we may be attracting to ourselves! 

The following story of a teacher and student K highlights this point.

Student K has consistently been ranked among my class’s top three talented students. However, his attitude toward others portrayed arrogance and indifference; he cared little about other students.

One day, he came to me and indignantly said: “Teacher, I think many people in the class don’t respect me; they don’t call me for activities after class, nor do they share any gossip with me. It’s as though they are intentionally isolating me. Are they doing this because they are jealous of me?”

Laughing, I exclaimed: “No, I’m certain! You only have to look at student W’s academic performance, which is similar to yours — but look how popular she is! If others are jealous of your good grades, they should equally be jealous of her!”

Upon hearing what I said, K felt a little confused. So I continued: “Do you know why W is popular with everyone? I understand and observe that she is very modest and willing to help others.

She often takes the trouble to explain problems to the students in the class with poorer grades; she never treats them differently. In addition, she actively participates in all the group activities and gets along well with her classmates. Think about it — doesn’t everyone welcome her because of these qualities?”

Even after hearing my words, K couldn’t fully comprehend W’s unique traits. So I said: “If you are free after school, I’ll buy you a milk tea, and we’ll chat to clarify this situation further — okay?” So K happily called his father and went to the tea café with me after school.

As we sat in the tea café, looking at all kinds of people passing by outside, I asked him if he knew why W was happy to help people. K shook his head, confirming that he didn’t know. “I have done home visits and W grew up with her grandmother, I told him.

W’s grandmother was always very kind

W’s grandmother is very kind, telling her stories of traditional culture daily, teaching her to always be kind and helpful to others, and she would be happy in return.” 

K suddenly interrupted me and said: “Will she be happy? Isn’t she afraid of damaging her interests?”

I thought momentarily and said: “It is undeniable that everyone has a selfish side, but they also possess a compassionate side. From a selfish point of view, holding an attitude of indifference to the difficulties of others will indeed save a lot of trouble.

“But you can also empathize with others, right? So when you follow your own good heart to help others, your level will be elevated, and you will reap greater joy and happiness.

“Mencius once said: ‘Compassion is the starting point of benevolence.’ It means that compassion is the beginning of one’s benevolence. Let me tell you two ancient stories about benevolence.

“Song Renzong was the most benevolent emperor in history who was praised by later generations. One day, Song Ren Zong decided to take a walk through the imperial garden. As time passed, he kept looking back frequently like he was looking for someone. 

Emperor Song was always good and kind to others.
Emperor Song was unwilling to let trivial things happen, such as chastising his subordinates. (Image: via Public Domain)

“When he returned to the palace, Song Ren Zong told his concubines: ‘I’m thirsty; bring some hot water.’ 

“The concubine hurriedly brought a cup of water to the emperor and asked: ‘Your Majesty, why did you not fetch water outside to drink to avoid becoming so thirsty?’

“King Renjong said: ‘I turned back several times, but I did not see the palace attendants responsible for boiling water, and if I had opened my mouth to utter a blaming word, someone would have been punished for it, so I endured my thirst and returned.’

“This shows the benevolence of Emperor Song as he was unwilling to let a trivial thing, such as chastising his subordinates happen. He was in power for more than thirty years and applied benevolence in guiding the morality of society. This period of history has been named ‘The Prosperous and Golden Age.'”

“The second story is about Genghis Khan, the founder of the Yuan Dynasty. One day, he led his men out hunting and happened to run into the Juriyas, who had a grudge against him. At this time, Genghis Khan’s men requested permission to kill the Jurijie people. 

“But when Genghis Khan saw the panic-stricken look of the Jurijas, his heart softened, and he said: ‘They are not my enemies now, so if I kill them without mercy and justice, doesn’t it make me unkind and unrighteous?’

A statue of Confucius.
Confucius once said, ‘Virtue is never alone, as there will always be neighbors.’ This means a benevolent person will not be alone in society; people admire and are close to those with warm hearts and will always seek out their company. (Image: Sean Pavone via Dreamstime)

“The Juries soon realized that they had been spared and, in gratitude, came forward to talk with Genghis Khan. 

“During the conversation, Genghis Khan learned that they were often ill-treated and ostracized by the Teyi Uchi and had no food or tents to live in. 

“Genghis Khan invited them to live in tents with him and promised to share the food from the next day’s hunt. 

“This benevolence touched the Jurijas, and they joined Genghis Khan in droves, telling everyone around them about it. 

“Over time, more and more people willingly defected to Genghis Khan, and his power grew more vigorous, laying the foundation for the unification of Mongolia.

“Also, Confucius once said: ‘Virtue is never alone, as there will always be neighbors.’ This means a benevolent person will not be alone in society; people admire and are close to those with warm hearts and will always seek out their company.

“This is why W is surrounded by many students who feel close to her. I think you can achieve this, too, right?”

K listened and responded truthfully, “I don’t know if I can do it — but I will try to change myself.”

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